Queen Victoria and her husband, Prince Albert are two of the most enduringly renowned figures in British royal history. One of the reasons for this is their undeniable impact on the country, the city of London and in particular, Paddington. For guests staying nearby, here’s a quick glimpse at how this royal couple helped transform the area…
A Very Modern Royal Couple
Queen Victoria is remembered by many now as a stern matriarch, bereaved and clad all in black. Yet the early years of her reign were quite different. Only a teenager when she ascended to the throne, Victoria brought a new youth and vibrancy to London, and she and her husband, the equally youthful and forward-thinking Prince Albert, lent their time and their names to a number of regeneration and arts projects, the effects of which can still be seen today.
When staying at our hotels near Paddington Station London, guests can see evidence of the royal couple all around. The Victoria Heritage Pub in Paddington is said to have opened on the same day Victoria ascended to the throne, and still contains Victorian-era wood panelling and décor.
The Great Exhibition
This is one of the most famous ways that Victoria and Albert left their mark on Paddington, and whilst The Great Exhibition can no longer be seen by visitors staying at our hotels near Paddington Station London, the influence of the exhibit still pervades subsequent exhibitions.
Taking place in Hyde Park, it was the first of a number of events called ‘World’s Fairs’, intended to showcase culture and industry. Championed and organised by Prince Albert and Queen Victoria, many famed figures of the era attended. Housed within a structure known as the Crystal Palace, the name gave rise to the naming of an entire area of London. Millions of people flocked to the exhibition, estimated at around a third of the UK’s entire population during May-October 1851.
At the age of 23, Queen Victoria was the first British monarch ever to experience travelling by train. Whilst she certainly wouldn’t be the last, her brief 25 minute trip from Slough to Paddington was met by cheering crowds, despite many attempts by the royal household to keep the trip private.
Until two days prior to the trip itself, nobody had known that the young queen had any intention of travelling by train, and in 1842, there was much cause for alarm from those who surrounded the monarch. Early train travel was not without its potential dangers! However despite her initial caution, the Queen chose train travel for her eighteen mile journey, in what is still regarded as an act of great confidence in the expanding British railway system.
Special Royal Waiting Rooms were eventually created to help support her journey, which were later part of Paddington Station’s First Class lounge, and continued to be used by the royal family itself until WW2. Victoria would subsequently make numerous trips by train throughout her reign, and in 1901 her coffin was transported from Paddington to Windsor for burial via rail.